Journey from Enmity
The sun rose over the small pacific island illuminating a vision of paradise in miniature. In the middle of the island palm trees created a shady dell while on the beach, azure waves lapped at the silvery sand.
George Cartwright struggled into wakefulness and began to take in the scene before him. Still clinging to the piece of timber that had washed him ashore, he shakily rubbed his bloodshot eyes and gazed at the debris scattered over the sand. He looked at the limp, lifeless flame flickering over a piece of the ship. As he stared at the hot air rippling above the flame, images from the previous night flashed before him: watching the ship being devoured by huge flames as it sank and hearing the terrifying screams of the sailors as the Japanese plunged at them like ferocious birds of prey lashing down at their helpless victims.
He looked around as the sea gently lapped over the wreckage and the sun burned down onto his skin. As he stared at the rubble, he saw a dark silhouette sitting in amongst the ruins. The figure sat still, staring intently at Cartwright. He rubbed his eyes, surely he must be hallucinating, but the figure remained still, watching him like a hawk. He struggled painfully to his feet and the figure opposite did the same. He was dressed in a flying suit and Cartwright recognised him as a Japanese airman. Cartwright stepped towards him, and the airman did the same. They began to circle each other. Scenes from the night before began to flash in Cartwright’s mind. Running to the deck, shielding himself helplessly from the attacks, and watching his friends dying one by one. He shook the images out of his head angrily as he started to close in on the airman. His eyes filled with tears and his fists clenched tight. Suddenly they lunged at each other, wrestling each other to the ground, grappling at each other as they sprawled over the sand.
Cartwright desperately hit and scratched, grabbing at the airman’s jacket, but as he did so he pulled off the pocket and a scrap of paper fluttered to the ground, spinning like a sycamore seed in autumn. Both men stood still as they watched it fall and suddenly silence descended. Cartwright bent down to pick it up and gazed at it for a few seconds. It was a picture of the airman, smiling with his wife and children. Cartwright’s eyes lit up; his face broke into a grin and he began to laugh. He then reached for his own pocket and pulled out a piece of paper the same size and handed it to the airman. The picture was almost identical, Cartwright standing with his family, smiling. The airman began to laugh too. As they gazed at the two pictures they looked up at each other and smiled. They suddenly realised, they had been led to believe they were so different for so long, but in reality, they weren’t enemies. They were the same. Cartwright carefully gave the picture back to the airman, who smiled and handed over Cartwright’s photo. Then, the airman looked up to see a coconut hanging from one of the palm trees. Cartwright looked up too. Then, arms round each other’s shoulders they set off together towards the tree.